The most effective methods for reducing and eliminating the burning pain caused by cutting chilies without gloves.
The first answer one always encounters when searching for ways to stop the burning hand pain after cutting chilies, is to wear gloves. Of course, those who make the mistake of cutting chilies without gloves will definitely not make the same mistake twice. However, this answer does nothing to relieve the desperate predicament of someone who has made this mistake and now has to find a way to fix it. Since I speak from experience, I will provide my own experience as well as advice from on-line forums on this topic.
The substances which can help relieve the pain or eliminate it all together are listed in order of their degree of effectiveness. The two types of substances are separated into coatings and washes. Coatings are meant to be left on your hands and washes are generally for soaking and then should be washed off. Though washes should be used first, I have listed coatings first since these are the final miracle substances which can completely eliminate the burning pain.
- Peppermint Extract: Pour a small amount of extract in your hand and rub all over your fingers. Repeat this process until all burning areas are coated with peppermint. Depending on the strength of pepper, the peppermint extract can completely eliminate the burning. However, be sure not to touch any water, ice or condensation or the extract will come off and your hands will burn again. If this method does not work completely, wash your hands and try another wash method first. Then coat your fingers once more with peppermint extract.
- Vegetable Oil: Another type of coating which can eliminate the burning is vegetable oil. I read about vegetable oil on-line but did not try it on purpose. I discovered how nicely it worked later on in the day while eating french fries, which greased up my fingers. So just as with the peppermint, coat your hands and fingers with the oil and then dry them with a paper towel. Do not wash off the oil. This is most effective if using a wash method first.
- Sour Cream: Though I did not try this method, many people reported that putting sour cream on your hands significantly reduces the pain and burning. I did not try this since you will not be able to use you hands if you have sour cream on them. This method can also be used as a wash to reduce pain and then vegetable oil or peppermint extract can be added as a coating.
- Aloe vera: Aloe vera is effective for several minutes depending on the degree of burning in your hands. This should only be applied as a coat after using an initial wash method to reduce the burning. This is also much less effective than the methods above so only use aloe vera if you have nothing else.
- Lime Juice: The most effective wash to reduce burning pain in your hands is lime juice. So squeeze a lime or two over a bowl and dip your hands and fingers in the juice. Wash your hands and then apply a coat of peppermint or vegetable oil.
- Rubbing Alcohol: Pour rubbing alcohol in a glass, soak your hands in the alcohol, and then wash your hands. After drying your hands apply a coating substance. If the burning subsides significantly, do not wash your hands and the alcohol may be tried as a coat as well. I found that rubbing alcohol was significantly less effective than lime.
- Bleach and water: Though bleach and water (1:5 ratio mix) is slightly more effective than rubbing alcohol, I have listed it last since it is the most toxic method. If you decide to try bleach, assure you have a low ratio of bleach to water and then dip your hands into the mixture. Do not soak since this could chemically burn your hands. Immediately wash your hands until all of the bleach is off your hands. This may take some time since since the bleach will be oily and will cling to your hands. After your hands are completely clean, apply a coat of peppermint oil. Beside peppermint being the most effective coating, it will also mask the strong smell of bleach on your hands which will linger for some time.
So, if you are reading this since you were unfortunate enough to cut chilies without gloves, I hope this guide will help to solve your predicament. However, if you have not yet made this mistake, you now know that the easiest way to solve this problem is to never have it. Wear gloves when cutting chilies!
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Published in: Cooking